Colombia is the only Latin American country among the 20 best economies for female entrepreneurs

In its fourth year, the Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs 2020 also highlighted the country taking the lead when it comes to women as business leaders: female business leadership in Colombia is at 57%

Colombia is the Latin American leader of Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs report. Photo: Shutterstock

Mastercard released this Monday the fourth edition of its Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs (MIWE) report, highlighting what factors are driving and which ones are hindering the progress of women entrepreneurs across the world. 

In this year’s edition, Israel tops the general charts as the best economy for female entrepreneurs globally (74.66 points), followed by the United States (74) and Switzerland (71.51). Based on publicly available data from international organizations such as the OECD and International Labour Organization, Mastercard’s report includes a global ranking on the advancement of women in business in pre-pandemic conditions across 58 economies, almost 80% of the female labor force.

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According to the report, the 2020 edition highlights progress in factors driving women’s entrepreneurship, from access to education and supportive entrepreneurial frameworks, to cultural perceptions of entrepreneurs and willingness to take calculated risks. “These advancements have seen significant movement across top performers, indicating that the formulation of gender-focused policies and ground-up investment in their realization makes a marked difference in the progress of women in business,” explains the study.

This is what put Israel at the forefront of the general ranking for the first time, largely driven by support for small and medium enterprises: the country’s support for SMEs’ ranking jumped from 42nd place in 2019 to 1st in 2020. “With an ambition to double the number of female entrepreneurs within 2 years, Israel has rolled out targeted initiatives focused on funding and advancing networking opportunities.”

In Latin America, Colombia is featured at the 14th general position with 66.31 points, a score considered “healthy” for MIWE (from 60 to 70). The Latin American country climbed ten positions, from 24th in 2019, with 62.7 points in the general score, to 14th place in 2020, scoring 66.31. Other countries in the region such as Argentina, Brazil and Mexico, also improved their positions at the ranking, while Chile, Uruguay, Peru, Ecuador and Costa Rica, achieved lower scores compared to 2019.

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According to Mastercard’s report, in Latin American countries such as Chile and Ecuador, the percentage of women engaged in early-stage entrepreneurial activities are high: around 30% to 40% out of the total female working-age population. “Notwithstanding the lack of underlying supporting entrepreneurial conditions, the cultural perception of entrepreneurship is quite positive.” 

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In Chile, the study points out that society’s acceptance and regard for risk-taking, innovativeness and individuality and creativeness in entrepreneurship is high compared to other wealthier economies. “Given that women are disproportionately more vulnerable due to their exposure in highly impacted sectors, such positive cultural mindset and regard for risk raking and innovativeness will be paramount in motivating women to step up to pursue new business opportunities. 

21 out of every 100 working-age females are entrepreneurs in Colombia

In addition to reaching the 14th position at Mastercard’s overall ranking of female entrepreneurship, Colombia took the lead among all the 58 economies analyzed in one of the criteria that compose the general ranking. Women’s advancement outcomes, composed by indicators such as women as business leaders, had Colombia in the first place, with a score of 66.2, driven by high representation of women business leaders (57% female leaders out of total), women professionals and technical workers (54% female of total), and female entrepreneurial activity rate (21 out of every 100 working-age females are entrepreneurs).

“Women in Colombia advanced from 2nd spot the previous year to 1st place, buoyed by an increase in the women entrepreneurial activity rate (F/M) from 71.5 to 87.8. This was attributed to a substantial increase in necessity-driven entrepreneurial activities,” highlights the study.

In its fourth year, the Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs 2020 also highlighted the country taking the lead when it comes to women as business leaders: female business leadership in Colombia is at 57%.

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